Wild Mint (Mentha arvensis)

Wild mint belongs to a large family of plants that are square-stemmed, opposite-leaved, and often very aromatic.  It takes a keen eye to notice the subtle differences in appearance that distinguish one mint from another.  However, many are easy to discern by touch, smell and taste.  When I introduce people to plants, it is always the mints that convince people to crouch down, take a closer look, and use all of their senses to distinguish between them. I love seeing the excitement on peoples’ faces when they realize that some plants really do smell and taste like black licorice, pizza, or peppermint!

Wild mint grows in low-lying areas in poplar stands, around marsh edges and along beaver damns.  It is most easily identified by its strong peppermint smell.  In the fall, wild mint often becomes covered in a white, dusty mold.  Do not gather moldy plants!

Wild mint makes a wonderful tea that aids digestion and offers pain relief.  I have used wild mint for many years to ward of menstrual cramps.  (In this case, a tincture works well, too.) A few fresh or crushed leaves added to dandelion coffee make a refreshing beverage.  I also use it in dandelion or chocolate cakes or even chocolate chip cookies (especially at Christmas time) because chocolate mint flavour is always a hit. Just blend or powder a generous amount of the leaves and mix in with the dry ingredients. For the past several months, I have been experimenting with wild kombucha teas and wild mint kombucha is among my favourites!

Years ago, while browsing through the herbs in a health food store that I hoped to work in, I was shocked to find packages of herbs containing a large percentage of brown leaves.  These leaves had obviously turned lifeless on the plant before they were even picked, indicating a careless attitude towards harvesting.  I wouldn’t buy those herbs, and I couldn’t sell them to anyone, either.  I walked out of the store, disgusted that such herbs were being sold for medicinal use.

I take great pride in the quality of herbs I gather for food and medicine.  I harvest only from healthy plants in healthy habitats.  When I gather wild mint, I take only the top few leaf pairs, where the plant is concentrating its energy and nutrients. The rest of the plant, including dead and bug-infested leaves, is left to continue flowering and set seed.  I know that new growth will appear from the leaf axils and in a couple of weeks they will be ready for a second harvest.  Wild mint contains volatile essential oils that dissipate quickly when the leaves are crushed.  All of my mint is dried, stored and shipped in whole form, unless otherwise requested.

I have a limited amount of wild mint for sale at $7.00/30 grams.  To order, please email info@psbotanicals.com. I will send you a price estimate that includes shipping.

You can also find it at Hollow Reed Holistic in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

 

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